With a little elbow grease and a lot of planning, it's possible to create your own beautiful yard. Here are things you can do yourself.
The better you know your yard, the more able you are to successfully accomplish its landscaping. Start with a soil test, which will help you determine which plants grow best and how to amend your flowerbeds and vegetable beds appropriately. Most county extension services run a soil test for a minimal fee.
It's tempting to buy the premade stuff for containers, but you can easily make your own soil mix. Buy large bags of topsoil, peat moss, perlite, and slow-release fertilizer and mix together.
Invest in the right tools -- pruners for sticks, loppers for finger-size branches, a pruning saw for larger stems -- and trim back according to guidelines for specific trees and shrubs.
A flat of annuals can cost more than $20; that same flat, started and grown in your own home, will run you under $5. Plus, you'll be able to choose exactly which varieties you want to grow.
Test Garden Tip: Some annuals such as poppies, larkspur, sweet peas, and marigolds can be started directly in the garden.
To capture rainwater runoff to use for irrigation (and trim your water bill in the process), integrate a rain barrel in your yard. You can make an inexpensive one using a large plastic garbage can covered with netting, or you can buy one with an integrated downspout.
When it comes to landscaping, seeding a new patch of lawn isn't that complicated or expensive, but it does take preparation, time, and care.
Weather and animals such as rabbits can be deadly for tender spring transplants. Protect yours by cutting out the bottoms of 3- to 5-gallon plastic nursery pots. Press the rings into the soil around the seedlings. Bonus: The rings work year after year to help keep young plants warm.